India has the biggest democracy and grown as one of the biggest power in the past few decades. Being an Indian we always feel proud to be a part of the country where we enjoy infinite colors of religions, cultures, customs and languages but does India really need one more division on the basis of Gods and religion? Can Hinduism afford to divide its Gods and beliefs again, where it already has many existing similar factions? Or is it just a game of ‘Divide and rule’ on the name of religion being played ahead? What if Lingayat will be able to take a separate place of a minority among many of already existed?
To go into the matter lets understand first who are Lingayat and how are they different from Veerashaivism? And what they are demanding and why are they striving to be a separate legal minority of India?
Who are Lingayats?
Historically, Lingayats were known as heroic worshippers of Shiva and wear ‘Linga’ Initially known as Veerashaivas. Lingayats dedicatedly follow Basava’s original thoughts while some Vedic oriented Veerashaivas consider themselves to be “one and the same community” belonging to Hinduism. Lingayatism is often considered a Hindu sect, sharing beliefs with Indian religions, but it rejects the authority of the Vedas, the caste system, and Hindu beliefs such as reincarnation and karma. Worship is centered on Shiva as the universal God. Lingayat says you are not born into it you have to be initiated. Even in Death, they are different, their dead are buried, in the sitting pose, stark naked with the ‘Ishtalinga’ in hand. Lingayatism is influential in South India, especially in the state of Karnataka. In broader philosophy, Veerashaivas predates Lingayats because both belong to Shivas but Lingayat striving to be different and independent from Hinduism and Veerashaivas because of its few distinct beliefs. They say they are different their founders are different their books are different. We do not believe in Hell or Heaven there is no rebirth for us. In 1871 and 1881 census Lingayats were registered as Shudra, but Lingayats objected it for decades, their persistence was strengthened by their presence within the government, and a growing level of literacy and employment in journalism and the judiciary, finally in 1926, the Bombay High Court ruled that “the Veerashaivas are not Shudras.”
Are Lingayats taking advantage of this catfight?
This is the fourth time in last 150 years Lingayats demanded their separate minority and clearly stated that they are not Hindu. In the warm atmosphere of elections and seeing Congress’s desperation for winning, it can be a final and masterstroke of Lingayat’s also, they are sure, for winning the race any one of these two governments will come and support them, they possess a big vote bank afterall. No matter who wins but Lingayat will get recognition in both the situation. Though S.M. Jamdar, national general secretary of Lingayat Mahasabha said it is an ideology based movement and it has nothing to do with any party.
Does Congress has anything to lose in this?
What made Congress government to grant and support this religious minority status now, while they could have supported it a few years back?
The community has remained the BJP’s largest vote bank and Lingayats hold the key to BS Yeddyurappa’s return as chief minister. Keeping this understanding, Karnataka’s Congress government recently on 19 March gave into the Lingayat community’s long-standing demand and recommended that they are considered a separate religion. Much appreciated stroke! isn’t it? In all this matter it is crystal clear that Congress has nothing to lose in the first place and even a small shift in the Lingayat vote share will only be a bonus.
Though Bhartiya Janta Party is not breaking it’s silence on the matter, because it became a make or break situation in election-bound Karnataka, though BJP is portraying and criticising it as an attempt to divide the community. But it seems very soon BJP has to endorse the Congress government’s move on their own plan.
Was it in the hands of the State government ever?
Congress is stating that we have done our work here at the level of State government now you do yours and clear the minority status at the Centre. Congress government was well aware that it was never in the hand of State government, even if they pass the bill, they have to wait for central’s decision. Congress is targeting the moon and thinking if not thr moon then at least they will hit the stars.
This is not the first time when state government played such trick s to attract vote bank by introducing new amendments, a few months back Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav also demanded the cap on quota from present 50 percent be increased to 69 percent. He also suggested census on the basis of castes.There is no need to mention that these kinds of political tricks work really well when central and state governments are from the oppositions or are rivals. Looking for humanity selflessly seems like a dream in Indian politics now.
If this masterstroke works here for Congress and makes them win then definitely Congress will try this further in others states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh considering the big vote bank states of BJP. But if in case they lose then there would be nothing that could trouble BJP to win here and further in centre.